This story is inspired by Luke 7:36–50 and John 12:1–8.
I bought that expensive perfumed oil for myself. I don’t think I’m wealthy, but I do have enough money to spend on whatever I want. I planned to use the oil to soften my dry skin—to make me more attractive. I admit vanity is my recurring sin. I love seeing myself in a mirror. After listening to Jesus, however, I wanted to turn away from self-absorption. I felt ashamed. At the same time, I knew Jesus accepted and loved me as I am. And he was inviting me to a more loving, self-giving life.
But what could I do with that costly oil now in a way that might help others? That’s when I thought of giving Jesus a foot massage. He walks so much, and his feet take a beating. When I rubbed his calloused toes, the oil melted into his cracked skin. As I looked up, he closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and his whole body relaxed.
I wiped the extra oil on my hair. That was genuine spikenard! Why waste it on the floor? And now, many days later, my hair still emits the pleasant honeysuckle scent and reminds me of my beloved Lord and the anointing I’d provided.
Alone in my room now, I slowly brushed my hair, praying as I looked in my mirror, “My God, I need your grace to avoid returning to vanity. I cannot do this alone. Jesus, I miss you.”
I closed my eyes, but the specter of his anguished face during his Crucifixion floated before me. Distressed, I opened my eyes.
And there he was, reflected in my mirror. Was he really standing behind me, or was I imagining this? As if reading my mind, the man said, “I am here.”
His voice was unmistakable. I sat frozen, looking at his face in my mirror, not wishing this vision to disappear.
“I am here. I’m really here.”
His tone was open, loving, and alive. I dared to turn, and I fell to his feet, dropping the mirror on the table. I kissed his feet, and tears fell again, only this time, they were tears of joy, not shame.
“My Lord and my God!” I knew it was he.
“Yes, ask me for grace whenever you’re tempted. You cannot overcome your faults on your own,” Jesus smiled. “Together, all things are possible. I will be your strength.”
I rubbed his feet again, but now there were large nail holes in them. I stayed there some time, until he reached down, took my hand, and helped me to my seat.
“Pick up your mirror again and look in it,” he said, smiling. I obeyed and looked at his reflection behind me.
“I am here, Mary,” he said, and I watched his image superimpose itself on mine.
“Oh, God, you are within me!” I said. God’s love is extravagant, like a puddle of perfumed oil seeping into a floor and evoking memories for a week.
I savored this insight as his face faded. When I turned around, Jesus was no longer physically standing there. I looked back in the mirror to better remember his face, resurrected, standing behind me. That very day, the Crucifixion ceased to haunt me.
I kept his visit to myself, treasuring his words: “I am here.”